Une famille à Bruxelles

6 Mei/Mai/May 15:00
7, 27 Mei/Mai/May 11:00
26 Mei/Mai/May 20:00
Duur/Durée/Duration: 1:30
Belgische première/Première belge/Belgian première

The director will be reading her first narrative monologue to the public - with Aurore Clément she liberates this text from silence. A discreet, heady, inner-melody that avoids the heaviness of sorrow, Une Famille à Bruxelles lingers over the daily activities that help a hurt woman not to think. During the course of this gentle monologue, the weakness she wants to avoid emerges surreptitiously. Her Jewish family, scattered far from Bruxelles, is the writer's ‘family'. The mother stayed behind, a solitary figure.

Enscenering/Mise en espace/Set up: Eric de Kuyper
Met/Avec/With: Chantal Akerman, Aurore Clément, Chantal Akerman, Aurore Clément,
Chantal Akerman, Aurore Clément...
Productie/Production: KunstenFESTIVALdesArts
Presentatie/Présentation/Presentation: vzw NADINE asbl (Brussel/Bruxelles), KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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The KunstenFESTIVALdesArts is delighted to be inviting Chantal Akerman back to Brussels. In May there will be premieres in Cannes and Berlin of her new film La Prisonnière, inspired by one of the last century's most important novels, Marcel Proust's In Remembrance of Things Past. Also in May, in Brussels, the film director will be demonstrating another of her many talents - as well as making films, she writes for theatre and has also created installations. In 1998 she had her first narrative monologue, Une famille à Bruxelles, published by L'Arche.

Now at the Festival there will be four opportunities to hear a reading of her first narrative monologue. With Aurore Clément, a colleague for many years, the film-maker will deliver the faltering and brave words of a mother - her mother. Akerman empathises with her mother's tiniest gesture or faintest of phrases, taking them out of silence. The empathy is so strong that the narrative surreptitiously and frequently slides from ‘she' into ‘I'.

From the table at which they read, Chantal Akerman and Aurore Clément bring an immediacy to these lapses into ‘she' and ‘I' in the narrative. It is no longer clear whether we are hearing the mother of this Jewish family scattered throughout the world - or brutally wrenched from it - or her daughter from Ménilmontant. Because the thread holding this fragile and cheerful mother together is her tenuous daily existence, Chantal Akerman adorns it with watchful attentiveness. She gives the impression that if these words and gestures were to loosen themselves from everyday existence, a wave of her distress would threaten to carry off this wounded woman and submerge her. The writer is almost afraid of punctuating this maternal speech - she, the daughter from Ménilmontant, too far away in Paris or New York, she who talks to her by letter in News from home, she who knows so well how the absence leaves her void and deprived, she who veils other incurable absences.

"I scratch the surface of things until I reach banality, she says. I scour them beneath the side issues that stop them from really being seen. What I say, what I film, really ought not to be cinema but something just right for being said in the street or in kitchens. What other people drop just happens to interest me. Sub-culture is not the opposite of beauty - it appears when you scratch the surface, when you clear up, clean and remove what is prominent. I make films that send people back in on themselves. In towns there is the look of someone walking past who can't say hello to another passer-by. I show these people and the looks they give - not with a camera trained on them but a camera stealing the bodies and life from them. It isn't easy for me to express myself. Often I can't find the right words or feelings. At the same time, I write my own screenplays and I enjoy writing them. I manage to hide my feelings a bit with words, but very rarely my thoughts. That's what the utopia of writing is all about."

"Since Jeanne Dielman, my mother has been my greatest source of inspiration, she goes on to say, by her way of reacting to avoid pain, by the efforts she employs to soften her daily existence and hide the silence. She is unable to talk about those close to her who never came back. So I am talking for her, to lend a voice to the ghosts of silence."

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